About a month after you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to go to the Meeting of Creditors. Your attendance at this meeting is mandatory. But who else will show up?
The Meeting of Creditors
Also known as the Section 341 hearing, the Meeting of Creditors allows a court-appointed trustee to ask you questions about your case. Most of the questions are very basic. The meeting takes place at the U.S. Trustee’s Office in Maryland and Virginia. In the District of Columbia, the Meeting of Creditors is held at the bankruptcy court.
Who will show up to the Meeting of Creditors?
Though called the “Meeting of Creditors,” it is likely that none of your creditors will show up at all. All of your creditors will receive notice of the meeting. But if you are entitled to a discharge, most creditors will not find it worth the time to attend. Yet there are some types of creditors who are more likely to show up:
- Individuals, like friends or family, to whom you owe a personal loan
- Former spouses owed alimony or child support
- Commercial creditors on whose accounts you are personally guaranteed with a business
- Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service, local taxation office, or child support services
- Creditors who believe you should be denied a discharge
- The United States Trustee
Many times, only an attorney representing these types of parties will attend. Sometimes, however, the individual will attend or will attend along with counsel. Sometimes a small business creditor will attend the Meeting of Creditors thinking they must do so to file a proof of claim. If counsel for the IRS or the United States Trustee attends your case, you likely will be required to proffer additional information to support your bankruptcy case.
What happens at the Meeting of Creditors?
Creditors and other parties of interest may ask you questions at the Meeting of Creditors. They can question you about your debts and assets, income and expenses. Creditors may not, however, cross-examine you as if the trustee were a judge. Sometimes a creditor asks improper questions or becomes argumentative. On those occasions, your attorney will direct you not to respond to the question. The trustee will also likely suggest admonish the creditor to ask another question or finish up.
Creditors may not use the Meeting of Creditors as a fishing expedition to discover irrelevant information about you. Hence if a creditor wishes to question you more than allowed by the bankruptcy code, that creditor must invoke Bankruptcy Rule 2004. That rule allows for a separate examination hearing, on the record, however the procedure is relatively rare.